Shetland has made a welcome return to our TV screens – courtesy of BBC One’s popular ‘Shetland’ series starring Douglas Henshall as Detective Inspector Jimmy Perez – helping to shine a deserved spotlight on the more northerly of Scotland’s stunning Northern Isles.
The series shares a slice of Shetland life with mainlanders possibly otherwise unfamiliar with the unique challenges of island living and the adaptability, skills and self-sufficiency required of residents based in this unique UNESCO Global Geopark.
Transplanting oneself from the mainland may not be to everyone’s taste, yet doing so has delivered career benefits for Iain Hunter, supervisor with EMN Plant based at Sella Ness in the Shetland North mainland, close to the Sullum Voe Oil Terminal and Total Gas Plant.
A family-owned business with deep roots in the community
EMN Plant Limited is a family-owned business employing 35 staff, one of the largest in its sector, specialising in civil engineering and groundworks, demolition and decommissioning, quarrying and ready mixed concrete as well as plant hire, haulage and scrap metal recycling. The company has been involved in most of Shetland’s major infrastructure projects – from construction of the Sullum Voe Oil Terminal in the 1970s to present day maintenance and plant hire contracts for Scatsta Airport and The Shetland Gas natural-gas processing plant, as well as access road building and cable trench works for the Garth Wind Farm community development project.
Iain, who hails from the Kingdom of Fife, joined EMN Plant’s civil engineering projects team in late 2019 initially to work on demolition of the existing Scalloway Fish Market and rebuild of a new 1,950 metre energy-efficient market building delivering industry-leading environmental hygiene standards. Total costs for the revitalisation of the fish market have been estimated at approximately £5.6 million, with the new facility delivering fast turnaround for vessel operations as well as a fibre connection providing direct access to Shetland’s online seafood auction with ready access to the marketplace.
Today, Scalloway on Shetland’s central mainland remains an important commercial fishing port however it was – until the 18th century – Shetland’s ancient capital with its own castle, and now also a museum sharing the story of Norway’s World War II ‘Shetland Bus‘ heroes.
Joining the Lerwick Power Station project
“By January 2020, our work on Scalloway Fish Market was complete and I was assigned to the multi-year project to safeguard security of supply and increase the percentage of renewables which can be accommodated at Lerwick Power Station. The power plant is a 72.8MW diesel-fired station that supplies much of Shetland’s electrical energy. We’re also providing concrete works related to the build of a new grid supply point which will ultimately connect Shetland’s distribution and transmission networks to the electricity grid on the mainland.
“Working in Shetland means that our teams need to be multi-skilled and incredibly resourceful, able to quickly master additional skills as it’s simply not possible to call in specialist resources when you’re in a tight spot. We therefore provide a wide range of quality services – from excavation, drainage and shuttering to steel works, floating concrete and access road building. We also manage every possible sub-contracting trade as part of our extended teams, though we tend to keep numbers at between eight and 10 for maximum quality, cohesion and performance.
“My long-term plan has always been to acquire management skills since my current role can be incredibly physically taxing. I’ve therefore been keen, for some time, to find a route into the management side of the business and knew this would likely require some form of additional training though I wasn’t clear what that might entail.
“Unknown to me, Esteem Training’s Business Development Manager Andy Findlater had previously been in contact with Ellis Nicolson, one of our three company directors, explaining about Esteem’s funded training which could deliver benefits both for the business and for me personally, and could be taken online from our base in Shetland.
“Ellis works closely with my mentor, manager Erik Robertson. When the national shutdown in March 2020 closed construction sites nationwide, Andy was back in touch with Ellis and Erik to provide details of forthcoming course dates and the way was cleared for me to register for the Construction Site Supervisors’ SVQ. That led to me starting work with Nicola towards the end of 2020.”
Determination, focus and a hunger to learn new skills
Iain’s assessor Nicola Thom continues the thread: “Iain is an incredibly quick study who asks lots of searching questions, always seeking new insights and additional support data. He’s so focused and motivated, I’d even say driven, in pursuit of new skills and knowledge, pushing himself hard to grasp the nuances of each module and consistently ahead of schedule. As his assessor, it has been incredibly heartening to see how much value he wrings out of every topic before applying the learning in his day-to-day team supervisory role.
“Iain’s very chatty and personable, and you can see why – as he has grown exponentially in confidence and management expertise – he has assumed more responsibility within the company, which in turn helps to lighten some of the load for Erik and the three company directors.
“When we worked together again on the Construction Site Management SVQ, which Iain has recently completed, he showed the same determination, focus and hunger to acquire new skills and demonstrated particular interest and aptitude for soft skills including performance reviews and conflict resolution.”
Iain is unequivocally upbeat in his assessment: “Studying with Esteem has, without question, helped me make significant progress in gaining management skills and expertise and it’s been great to have Nicola as my assessor for both courses. She worked through literally every bullet point and was always available whenever I had a query – that makes everything so much easier. I found the handbook and the various learning materials easy to navigate, too. I actually thought the courses were fantastic, despite having had no real expectations beforehand or even knowing whether I would be eligible to take part.
“There have been several benefits from taking the courses, each one helping to support my role including mastering key aspects of running a successful company and learning how to stay ahead in our industry. I also understand why we continue to work with Esteem Training.
“Their whole team is friendly and supportive, and flexible when work pressures mean that you need to reschedule appointments at short notice. They communicate well and you can tell that they genuinely enjoy what they do – that’s possibly why they work so well with us. It doesn’t surprise me to hear they’ve won awards in the past.”
Call Andy on 07766 658083 to discuss any training you may need for yourself or your team, or email him at email@example.com
You can also visit our website to find out more about what we offer